Name: Christina McSwain from Brooklyn, New York
Weight Lost: 52 lbs
How She Did It: Relying on her faith in God
For me, the weight struggle has always been real. I fought the fat fight for most of my childhood, from elementary school through adolescence and the better parts my college years. I battled internally with always wanting to measure up, because I was always the fat sibling and I never looked like my popular friends who were cute and shapely. While I was fun to hang around and was always outfitted in what was “hot,” I always felt that I had to try extra hard because my weight was such a heavy distraction…pun intended. I can vividly recall hearing some of the guys say “she’s cute for a fat girl” or “Christina is mad cool, but she a little too chunky.” I wore it well, so I thought, while masking the fact that I never felt good about who I was.
Something happened to me after college. At that point, I couldn’t really identify the moment, or the sole motivator. However, looking back, I realize that God was beginning a VERY unique process for me that included an entire reshaping of the way I viewed myself. I’d been so caught up in appearing whole— pursuing the job, being involved socially, enjoying local “popularity” on the church music scene— that I’d completely abandoned getting to know who Christina was without the extras. The inward-confusion was so apparent; I’d be the girl doing the church bop at the party, and on Sunday morning I’d dip and swerve a la Saturday night. I WAS A MESS. I realized that in the process of trying to “arrive” I had abandoned myself. Those things, people and relationships that I believed validated my worthiness had taken precedence over the way I treated myself and I became so distracted that I wasn’t able to accept, apply and understand how deeply God cared for me.
Then it changed. I started to understand that I was good enough and worthy of the love that required me to treat myself better. As I began to pursue a real relationship with Christ, I started to understand that my value came from Him, not from stuff, or accomplishments, or friends or status. Understanding my identity in Christ helped me realize that I was damaging the gem that he’d so lovingly created and cared for, and thought about, and purposed. How dare I undervalue who he had taken so much time to think about? Like, before my mama’s mama’s mama’s mama (and way before that!) was born, he had already planned greatness for me! What the heck was my excuse?
Part of my change began with what I was feeding myself. I educated myself on making wise and healthy choices. I practiced discipline in the kitchen and at the gym – I read everything I could about food and how it impacts my body. I quit soda, I went to the gym twice a day. I wanted it. I worked for it. And with God’s help, I made it happen!
These days, maintenance (and the shedding of a few vanity pounds) is my goal. I have a wonderful system of accountability with my gym partner. I’m up and at it at 5 am at least 4-5 days a week. There are some things that I’ve completely abandoned from my diet: fast food, sodas, processed garbage. I try out new recipes that force me to use vegetables and fruits in ways that I never have before. I’m constantly learning from my social media family too! I follow fitness folks and healthy foodies and participate in conversations that teach me new things all the time!
I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t hard; it is the fight of my life. Sometimes I mess up. I don’t always make it to the gym. I like chocolate. I crave brownies…and sometimes I eat them. However, I am dedicated to this: doing my earthly part to ensure that I don’t fall back into destructive habits that hinder me from pursuing God’s very best for my life.